Letters: Customers will be rail winners in route battle

East Coast Trains will not have everything its way. Picture: Jane Barlow
East Coast Trains will not have everything its way. Picture: Jane Barlow
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IT can only be good news that Virgin Trains is increasing the number of services between Edinburgh and London (News, December 31), with the number of trains running between the capitals rising from one to six a day.

This means East Coast will no longer have the control of the market it has enjoyed up until now.

With an alternative choice of transport made available and some fares provided at cheaper prices, East Coast will be forced to compete.

The down side is that as it goes via Glasgow and Birmingham rather than following the more direct route, the journey time will be an hour or so extra for passengers.

But that need not be such a big deal. Virgin Trains executive commercial director Graham Leech says passengers will benefit from “industry-leading customer service”. I like a journey to be about comfort and relaxation rather than being a simple sprint to get to the destination as soon as possible, and when you throw competitive prices into the mix, then an extra hour would be no burden.

If competition between the two rail carriers results in better quality services and keener prices, then the real winner will be the passenger.

A Morris, St Leonard’s Lane, Edinburgh

Why Better Together does not benefit us

D SMITH’S letter (December 27) was interesting. For me, soft-touch Britain is a haven for immigrants with our generous welfare and housing 
benefits.

As a born resident who has worked 45 years, mostly seven days a week, I finished in my trade due to health reasons – chest and arthritic knees. I applied for benefit and was told to train for alternative work.

I was told I was not entitled to jobseeker’s allowance as I had only paid class 2 NI stamps in my last two financial years and need class 1 to qualify.

I said I had paid class 1 NI for the first 30 years of my working life, with only two and a half years unemployed in total in that time. “I don’t make the rules,” I was told.

I said I should be entitled to employment support as I was now incapacitated for the job I had been doing all my working life. But it seems I was not incapacitated enough to qualify and money I was paid in tax credits is having to be paid back.

I can’t see how the Better Together campaign can expect to count on my vote when this is how we are treated as citizens of the UK.

I know for a fact this will not happen in an independent Scotland. Bring it on.

Colin Smail, Viewforth Gardens, Bruntsfield, Edinburgh

Green activists ought to take fight to China

The Greenpeace protesters have now left Russia and are free to continue with their protests.

Why have they never targeted China?

Wind turbines require magnets and magnets require a rare earth metal called neodymium.

What the green zealots and the companies profiting from wind turbines deliberately choose to ignore and conceal is that wind turbines are causing death, serious health problems and pollution in China.

The serious health problems include cancer, osteoporosis and skin and respiratory diseases.

On the outskirts of Baotou there is an immense lake of bubbling toxic waste five-miles wide.

This vast, hissing cauldron of chemicals is the dumping ground for seven million tons a year of rare earth residue after it has been processed.

There are also high radiation levels.

Could I suggest that the Greenpeace protesters go to China?

Would we ever see them again?

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

All animal charities should receive help

I WAS delighted to read the Scottish SPCA has been given a £655 boost thanks to the Scottish Seabird Centre (News, December 26).

The North Berwick centre was chosen by the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions to name a charity of its choice.

Half of the proceeds went to assist in the relief of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and the remainder went to the animal charity.

All animal charities should receive funding as the staff dedicate their time caring for sick domestic and also wild animals which fall prey to abuse.

None of the animal charities receive lottery funding, which is sad indeed.

June Fleming, Hercus Loan, Musselburgh

How will history view the religious leaders?

The independence referendum of this coming year will see many groups in Scotland renegotiating their 
positions.

Edinburgh Secular Society will continue to defend the right of adults to choose religious belief for themselves, just not for everyone else.

Freedom of religion does not extend to its imposition in state schools, its exemption from equality laws or its unelected access to local and national government.

In 2014 we call upon religious leaders to act with grace and lay down these anachronistic privileges.

If they wait until they are torn from their grasp by a changing demography and legislation then I fear history will judge them less kindly.

Edinburgh Secular Society wishes a happy new year to our debating opponents, the Edinburgh Evening News and all its readers.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive, Edinburgh